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Palazzo Re Enzo

A Palatial Prison for an Emperor's Son

In the corner between Piazza Maggiore and Piazza Nettuno stands the 13th-century Palazzo di Re Enzo, facing the Neptune Fountain. It was built in 1244 and takes its name from one of the fascinating characters of medieval history, the ‘King of Sardinia’, the illegitimate son of Emperor Frederick II, who was captured by the Bolognesi at the Battle of Fossalta in 1249 and locked up here for 23 years until his death in 1272.

The first palace here was built by the Guelph Lambertini family (the same who captured Enzo) and incorporates their 25m tower (with a roof on it, best seen from Via Rizzoli). It was replaced by an extension of the Palazzo del Podestà, initially known as the Palazzo Nuovo before taking the name of its most famous resident. Adjacent, to the right is Cappella di Santa Maria dei Carcerati, where those condemned to death would go for their last rites.

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Medieval Art and Architecture

Palazzi in Bologna

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Images by aquario5, Paul Hermans, Creative Commons Licence